Rafiullah Sharifi was sitting outside the Dasht-e-Barchi Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, on the morning of May 12, when three gunmen stormed the building. The 26-year-old was in his car, just outside the hospital gates, when the first explosion happened. He ducked to avoid being hit with bullets and shrapnel and called his wife, Nazia, 24, who had given birth in that hospital just a couple of hours earlier. Sharifi asked his spouse to hide herself and their baby. He stayed on the phone until it disconnected—and then waited for hours while the attack continued and security forces evacuated the babies.
Afterward, Sharifi was allowed inside. Twenty-five people had been killed, including children, mothers, and hospital staff. The interior was still marked with blood and the bodies of the victims. “I found my wife’s body under her bed,” Sharifi told Undark. When Nazia was discovered, her arms were folded in a way that seemed like she had been holding her baby when she died.
The baby had already been rescued and evacuated. She had been shot in the leg several times and was rushed to a different hospital, the French Medical Institute for Mothers and Children. Like many of the 20-plus babies rescued that day, the girl hadn’t even been named yet. Her only identification was a small piece of pink tape on her wrist that read Rafiullah and Nazia’s baby. She had three huge gunshot wounds, said Najeebullah Bina, the pediatric surgeon now overseeing the infant’s care. Her leg was cold and wasn’t getting enough blood. Parts of her muscle and skin had been destroyed. An X-ray revealed that the girl’s leg bones had suffered multiple fractures.